Mariana shares her volunteering journey as a team leader improving the employability of young people in the regions of Mtwara and Lindi
In September 2018, Civil Engineer Mariana Goncalves travelled to Tanzania volunteering as a Team Leader for Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO) via International Citizen Service (ICS) in Mtwara. VSO works through volunteers to fight poverty in developing countries and in Tanzania they are working on the implementation of the Enhancing Employability Through Vocational Training (EEVT) project.
Mariana made the decision to volunteer because it was a great chance to broaden her horizons and to help people in a direct way. In Tanzania, she was engaged on an EEVT project to improve the employability of young people in the regions of Mtwara and Lindi with a focus on the growing demand for skilled labour in the gas industry and related services.
We caught up with Mariana and asked her to share her experience with us. Her story is inspiring.
“My first 3 weeks in Tanzania involved a lot of travelling, including three 9 hour long ‘white knuckle’ bus rides. My orientation period took place in Dar es Salaam where I met other members of the team and my lovely host family who I was to live with during my stay in Mtwara.
Once I was established in Mtwara, the team and I began liaising with the different schools and colleges involved in our programme to create a timetable that would evenly distribute volunteers’ time between the necessary tasks.
It took some time to get used to communication and language difficulties whilst there and I struggled with the lack of independence. I became much more comfortable about these things (and of course the unbearable heat!) with the passing of time.
I was presented with some challenging situations in Mtwara. Overcoming these has turned me into a more resilient, patient and aware person. I also have a new appreciation for education after this placement. I’ve passed through many phases of academia without a reflection on how important it was to me at the time, it was something that needed to be done. I was supported by my family who provided me with an environment where I could study, ask questions and develop myself. After my contact with education in Tanzania I have realised how lucky I was. My time in Mtwara has opened my eyes to the impact a supported academic path can have, professionally and personally. Since returning to the UK it is now my intention to help people in the UK that struggle with learning and who haven’t got access to the resources and support I had when growing up.
One of my favourite authors is the travel adventurer Anthony Bourdain who once said, “Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind”. I hope that I have left something good behind in Mtwara!”
At Stantec we have our people at the heart of the business and we will grow, inspire and protect them. Their performance and loyalty is crucial to our overall success and this understanding forms the platform of our holistic talent development activities.
Stantec uses its links with several voluntary organisations to provide very different opportunities for our employees to learn and grow whilst making a significant contribution to an area of need.